Howard Zinn beleives that a very important aspect of the Civil War that is often times left out of the history books is the conflict between rich and poor.
Fact: the Civil War killed about 600,000 american lives. (an equivalent of about 3 million of today’s population). Most of those that died were poor.
The rich could avoid the draft by paying $300, the poor couldn’t afford this and were the ones who died in battle.
In the south, only a small minority of people owned slaves, and those that didn’t were convinced to think that their lives depended on slavery. For this, the poor men fought for the Confederacy too, while the rich slave owners grew cotton and made profit.
Overall Lincoln demanded unity amongst his army and his society. This unity was merely a front. Working people were attacked by soldiers if they dared to strike against oppressive employers. And those daring to criticize Lincoln’s policies would be put in jail without trial. 30,000 prisoners received this fate. Yes, 30,000!!
To give you an idea of how many people that is… In 2006, the Atlanta Braves averaged 31,869/game. (ESPN.com)
To support Zinn, I’ve done some research and found a link to a rare recollection of ‘Bread Rebellions’. The poor southerner was so affected by war they were forced to revolt just to feed themselves. Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, Savannah and Midgeville were all towns in Georgia who were affected. The middle and upper class citizens were ‘unaware’ that the poor were starving, which emphasizes the split between rich and poor.
Read the “Bread Rebellions” in the PDF document below and comment on the division of class that is discussed.